In Part 2, I discussed the seven standard safety groupings for motor carriers – that is, for motor carriers with sufficient data.  In this post, I’ll cover how motor carriers with Insufficient Data are treated under the Inspection Selection System.

Here’s How It Works: The FMCSA identifies motor carriers that do not meet the information requirements of the Sufficient Data Algorithm (discussed in Part 2 of this article).  These are, generally speaking, motor carriers with low numbers of inspections. No big surprise there.  One key goal of the FMCSA is to have as many motor carriers as possible meet the sufficient data algorithm so you will notice in the graphic above that motor carriers with insufficient data will receive an ISS score in the red range (75-100) or the yellow range (50-74).  In other words, if a truck is connected to a motor carrier with insufficient data, the recommendation will either be Inspect or Optionally Inspect.  No passes for you!

[NOTE: This post provides an overview of the Insufficient Data Algorithm under the ISS.  For full details, review the ISS methodology document from the FMCSA.]

What specifically does “Insufficient Data” mean?
A motor carrier has insufficient data for ISS-2010 purposes when one or more of its CSA BASIC scores is listed as insufficient data.  This can only occur in the four following BASICs:

  1. Fatigued Driving – Insufficient data when fewer than 3 relevant inspections (level I, II, III, VI)
  2. Driver Fitness – Insufficient data when fewer than 5 relevant inspections (level I, II, III, VI)
  3. Vehicle Maintenance – Insufficient data when fewer than 5 relevant inspections (level I, II, V, VI)
  4. Cargo-Related – Insufficient data when fewer than 5 relevant inspections (level I, II, V, VI)

How does the FMCSA prioritize these carriers?
Similar to the Sufficient Data Algorithm, motor carriers are placed into the highest (meaning worst) group for which they qualify, starting at the top.  Let’s examine each group in turn…

RED ZONE: These three groups are in the red ISS zone, meaning a recommendation to inspect and an ISS score of 75-100 – as high as you can go.

GROUP 1: CARRIERS “ONE AWAY” FROM SUFFICIENT DATA
Interestingly, the absolute highest priority (and highest ISS score) for motor carriers with insufficient data is for carriers that are one inspection away from having sufficient data.  These carriers will received an ISS value between 96 and 100.  After the next inspection, a motor carrier in this situation will jump to the ISS scoring under the Sufficient Data Algorithm.  This is in accordance with the the goal of the Agency in getting as many carriers as possible to have sufficient data.

The ISS methodology is quite detailed about this point.  A violation rate is computed for carriers in this position and an Insufficient Data Value is assigned.  For full details, see the ISS Methodology available from the FMCSA.

This works in a somewhat counter-intuitive way.  Imagine a carrier that needs one more inspection to have sufficient data.  Their ISS score under Insufficient Data would be very high – perhaps a 98 or 99.  As soon as they get the next inspection, which pushes them into the sufficient data algorithm, their ISS score is likely to drop based upon their placement in the Sufficient Data Algorithm, as described in Part 2 of this article.  This is a good example that it is important to understand if a motor carrier’s ISS score is derived from the Sufficient or Insufficient Data Algorithm as the same ISS score (a 95 for example) means very different things under the two approaches.

GROUP 2: CARRIERS WITH ZERO INSPECTIONS (89-95)
Next up – Carriers who, somehow, have absolutely zero inspections recorded with the FMCSA.  These carriers have flown (or more accurately, driven) under the radar of the government, so to speak.  The high ISS score assigned to these carriers assures that if and when one of their vehicles has the opportunity to be inspected, it will be prioritized highly in an effort to get some track record of safety history into the federal system.

Question: How could a motor carrier actually have zero inspections? In quite a few ways, actually.  Examples include:

  • The motor carrier could be brand new
  • The motor carrier’s vehicles may only be driving local routes, avoiding inspection stations altogether
  • The motor carrier may be inactive or defunct

If a carrier has zero roadside inspections, the ISS score is assigned purely based on the size of the carrier as below:

ISS Value Category
95 1,001 + power units OR 1,001 + drivers
94 201-1,000 power units OR 201-1,000 drivers
93 64-200 power units OR 72-200 drivers
92 16-63 power units OR 16-71 drivers
91 7-15 power units OR 6-15 drivers
90 2-6 power units OR 2-5 drivers
89 1 power unit OR 1 driver

Carriers with no drivers and no power units are assigned the midpoint value of 92.

GROUP 3: CARRIERS WITH LOW INSPECTION RATE (75-94)
The last category in the red zone is carriers with insufficient data and a relatively low  inspection rate.  The FMCSA Methodology explains:

The ISS-2010 Insufficient Data Algorithm recommends ‘Inspect’ or ‘Optional’ for carriers with some inspections.  These carriers are prioritized based on their average carrier and driver inspection rate over the past two years with lower inspection rates receiving higher priority for inspection.

Inspection rate is determined by calculating the following:

  • Inspection per Power Unit Rate – Basically, this is inspections divided by number of vehicles
  • Inspection per Driver Rate – Inspections divided by number of drivers
  • Inspection Average Rate – the average of the two rates above

Carriers are then ranked by the Inspection Average Rate and assigned an ISS value of 50 – 94.  The lowest inspection rates are assigned the highest ISS values.

YELLOW ZONE. Carriers in this range get an inspection recommendation of optional and an ISS score of 50-74.

GROUP 4: CARRIERS WITH HIGH INSPECTION RATE (50-74)
As mentioned above, these carriers have some inspections and are prioritized based on their Inspection Average Rate.  The idea being that because these carriers have a relatively high inspection rate, they will likely be inspected enough in the future to push them into the Sufficient Data Algorithm.

If you are trying to understand a motor carrier’s relatively high ISS score, I am hopeful that this explanation of the Insufficient Data Algorithm is helpful.

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Now that we have reviewed the mechanics of the new ISS-2010 scoring system, in Part 4 – my final upcoming post on this series – I discuss what you can do about it.  Questions and comments are welcome.  Thanks for reading!

 

ISS Value Category
95 1,001 + power units OR 1,001 + drivers
94 201-1,000 power units OR 201-1,000 drivers
93 64-200 power units OR 72-200 drivers
92 16-63 power units OR 16-71 drivers
91 7-15 power units OR 6-15 drivers
90 2-6 power units OR 2-5 drivers
89 1 power unit OR 1 driver